Last Saturday morning I checked Facebook before I checked the news. I saw that a friend of mine who lives in Paris had posted that she was safe and sound in Italy. I remember thinking what an odd thing to post. I was a bit confused. It was only a few hours later that one form of confusion ended and another began. I was no longer confused about why my friend wanted us to know that she was safe, this comfort was replaced by confusion of what was happening in Paris. I stared at the rolling news coverage and had so many questions.
In the aftermath, my Facebook feed has been flooded by countless articles, friends changing their profile pictures, others not changing their profile pictures, pray for Paris posts, pray for the world posts, articles from all around the world about ISIS, prayers, people venting frustrations, people venting pains, interviews with survivors… The list goes on and on. There is so much information out there, so much to think about. It is confusing to know what to make of this tragedy.
At Church and in our small groups we are studying Philippians. Last night we were studying Philippians 1:12-30. It seems Paul is really suffering, he is in chains in prison but somehow manages to rejoice. He manages to turn his situation into a gospel opportunity. Paul appears to experience genuine emotions in relation to his situation but his kingdom mindset enables him to persevere. This Kingdom mindset also drives him to prayer for the Philippians and himself.
Following on from this study someone asked: how can God use what is happening in Paris, Kenya and around the world for the sake of his Kingdom? How can God use such carnage, pain and suffering all around the world for the sake of his Kingdom?
The confusion of the events of the past week have driven me to pray more for the world. As Christians we believe that God is in control of the world but also that we live in a broken and fallen world that is groaning. As much as I would like to fix the world by my own might, I know that this is impossible. As Christians we believe that it is only God who can bring peace. I have found the #prayforparis hashtag encouraging. In the midst of the confusion and the anger and the pain, I can’t fix the situation but I can pray. I can pray for peace not only in Paris but also around the world.
I have found the Prayer for Peace in Common Prayer really helpful in guiding my prayers in situations like what occurred in Paris last week. Maybe you might like to use it in your quiet times and Bible studies this week.
Prayer for Peace
God of the nations,
whose sovereign rule brings justice and peace, have mercy on our broken and divided world.
We pray especially today for (…).
establish your peace in the hearts of all
and banish from them the spirit that makes for war, that all races and peoples may learn to live
as members of one family
and in obedience to your laws,
through Jesus Christ our lord. Amen.